Monday, 21 August 2017

All change!

The Safari has reached one of those life moments - we've just gone and taken early retirement! With the pretty rotten last twelve months we've decided that life's too short and having just missed yet another close encounter with the surgeon's scalpel we felt it was time to ditch the daily grind and enjoy some quality Safari-time and look after Monty while Wifey continues to bring home the bacon...well we really hope she will cos being a poor pensioner now if she doesn't we'll starve.
And so ends an era...and sadly it is also the end of Patch 2 as we won't be down that way very often from now on, our seawatching will be done much closer to home from the cliffs at Chat Alley from now on. Patch 2 ended on 56 species.
Talking of seawatching we came across this little snippet from the  Cornwall Bird Watching & Preservation Society

Lizard Point, Introduction to Seawatching 08:00 – 10:00: 6 Cory’s Shearwater, 3 Balearic Shearwater, 9 Sooty Shearwater, 1700 Manx Shearwater, 650 Gannet, 1 Storm Petrel, 1 Greenshank, 1 Ringed Plover, 4 Sanderling, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Chough.

Blimey that's just a two hour 'introduction' to seawatching - that lot would take us two lifetimes and more to come across at Patch 2 or Chat Alley!

Our first assignment as a retiree was to lead a moth and bat night for a local Friends group at their park. We've done them there before around this time of year but have been dreadfully unlucky with the weather. Last night it seemed the curse would continue, rain threatened, the wind howled and it wasn't very warm. But the gods were with us, the train kept off and the crowds turned up eager to learn about the bats and even hopefully get to see some. At least they'd see a couple as we'd brought along our rubber 'Halloween' bat help point out all the animal's salient features, we also had a our mummified Pipistrelle Bats that have been donated by a couple of friends over the years so that they could see how small bats are and how velvety soft their fur is.
Here's a pic of young E demonstrating how his patent bat-attracting-stick works. We had to use a length of rush as there wasn't any suitably long grasses nearby and were worried that the greater thickness of the rush's stem would keep the bats away...should we even find any.
As the darkness gathered we switched on the bat detectors and led the group to the most sheltered area of the park down by the big hedge. There's a bit of a ditch too which helps as it's a breeding ground for all those little midges the bats feed on. Fortunately it didn't take long before the first clicks of a passing bat were heard on the detectors. Then more were heard and the first bat seen. By now excitement was rising and almost all the group got to see bats close up as the patent bat-attracting-sticks we'd given to the children came in to play and did what they are supposed to do. It's magic - pure and simple!  Better still with more sophisticated bat detectors available now between the group we managed to determine that both Pipistrelle and Soprano Pipistrelle Bats (our 10th mammal species of the year) were present.
We're led to believe there's definitely a bat in this pic - Thanks to @OhNoItsSteve for this and the pic above
Once we'd had our fill of bats it was time to turn the bat attracting lamp on and wait to see what it might bring in. Large Yellow Underwings didn't disppoint, the children loved them - big and gaudy so far superior to the many dowdy Common Rustics and slightly more interesting Flame Shoulders. Catch of the day was a cracking Burnished Brass sadly no photo for you as we forgot to take either our camera or phone.
The following morning the trap was checked - we'd taken it out of the car overnight - but not having put a cover on it there had been a mass exodus leaving just a single Large Yellow Underwing behind.
Later getting into the car a Copper Underwing sp flew out! Didn't see that one arriving last night.
A morning trip to the nature reserve felt birdy, in fact it felt like an Osprey sort of a day. But after a couple of hundred yards it was evident it was going to be a rather unbirdy sort of a day. Autumnal with Dunnocks peeping and Robins ticing but other than that it was very quiet, even the now laden with  ripe berries Elderberry bushes were devoid of birds. A Sparrowhawk drifted south and Mallards sat quietly on the water as a single Snipe did a quick fly round before plummeting back in to the reedbed. No sign of the recent Otters or the Bittern this morning.
Down at the far end a female Reed Bunting posed nicely.
Not long after watching her a Magpie flew past us carrying what looked like a Shrew sp.
In the scrub even the normally hyper-active Whitethroats were keeping a low profile until this one popped up in front of us and stayed on its perch long enough for the camera to be pointed at it.
Back at the Elderberry bushes there was still nothing happening and we were thankful that this lovely Small Tortoiseshell came to the nearby Buddleia bush for a refuel on its abundant nectar.
Arriving back at Base Camp for breakfast we were please to see a lone House Martin (Garden #28) swooping around over the garden and after breakfast we heard the gulls making a commotion while we were doing some chores so we grabbed the bins  and dashed outside hoping to see an Osprey going over - close but no cigar, 'just' a Buzzard being seen on its way by those gulls.
That afternoon we took Monty to his favourite riverside walk and he was taught to swim by a friendly black Labrador. It was very busy with humans and their dogs and not very busy with any wildlife at all. But where some children were playing in the river we had a brief sighting of a Dipper (166) fly past them so a result, a dog that can now swim and a new bird for our year list - no chance of a pic of it for our Year Bird Challenge though.
So all in all not a bad day after all.
Where to next? Could be anywhere the world is now our oyster! But it'll probably be back to the nature reserve for starters before we get too adventurous.
In the meantime let us know who's been swapped for lesser goods in your outback.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

A couple of grand days on the beach

The Safari has been entertaining a lot of children on the beach this last couple of days. And what a cracking couple of days they've been! They've found some superb creatures (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't call them critters - yuk yuk and double yuk). There were several fairly large Green Shore Crabs brought out of the pools. This chap has lost both his pincers so we're  not sure if he'll survive his next moult as he'll be unable to feed - we know he's a he from looking at his underside.
At the edge of a pool on the beach right at the bottom of the slipway was a rather battered Common Sand Star. At first we thought it was dead but after a few children had handled it its finger tips began to curl up and it started to extend its tube feet so we reckon it was probably relieved to get back in the water of one of our buckets.
We always hope to find a loose Beadlet Anemone and this one was a big one. It's taken a long time (= years!) to find one that would sting us with enough of its tens of thousands of microscopic nematocysts to hold its one weight by stinging us.
Stung we were but it's OK as the stingers are so tiny they can only grip the very outermost dead skin cells so we were never going to be able to feel anything, not even so much a s a little tickle.  
Even better was to come, as the children were busy with Common Prawns, Brown Shrimps, little Blennies and a shed load of tiny Green Shore Crabs we had a walk along the not very impressive strandline looking for seaweed with Mermaids' Purses. We didn't find any but did find this striking little shell...
So what is it? Well that's the rub we didn't know, we've not seen one like it before. It's similar to the very rare Grey Top Shell - well it's very rare on our beach we've only found one in the all the years we've been doing this type of event.  
We had to wait until we got back to Base Camp and browse through some field guides that we learnt it was a Painted Top Shell and there aren't too many local records for them...No wonder we've not seen one before. It's been washed and is in our collection tub now!
With a bit of a thunderstorm and some horrendous rain last night we were worried that today's event would be called off but the rain gave up early and the sun came out to give a cracking day in the end.
That was the cue for the one of the biggest turnouts we've ever had...we were bombed!
A great afternoon followed. Lots of everything but strangely lots of very small juvenile starfish of hich we only saw a couple yesterday. 
Some of the parents were very persistent when it came to getting the biggest crab or a tricky fish, our friend in the first pic was caught again. One young mum's persistence paid off with a little bit of help from her friend when she netted this absolute dobber of a Five Bearded Rockling, it's nearly a foot long, the ones we usually catch struggle to two inches!
Second best 'catch of the day' came right at the end of the session when a shrimp fel out of a pice of Hornwrack - not a normal Brown Shrimp but one like a freshwater Gammerid shrimp, Gammarus salinus, not a species we find very often at all.
And so ended two very enjoyable afternoons with some real quality finds - isn't our beach just splendidly brilliant!
Sadly those were the last children's events we'll do after 35 years, we've done hundreds over the years and enjoyed every single one and almost all the children have enjoyed them too...all we ask is that they've remembered something they saw, learnt something new and told their friends who weren't there how much fun it was.
Where to next? Helping our local MP sort out some winners for his environmental awards tomorrow but probably no chance of getting out in to the environment.
In the meantime let us know who's found the biggest dobber in your outback.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sandwiches on the beach

The Safari was hoping that the early morning low tides would permit a roost of Sandwich Terns providing there hadn't been too much doggy or fisherman disturbance before we got out. We took the bins and big lens to work and fortunately there was a roost well down on the beach and better still it was directly in front of us and there was no sign of any forthcoming disturbance. So that was it, the wellies went on and we set off down the steps onto the beach. To make sure we didn't disturb them and get in the best position for the pretty rubbish light - we were still on ISO Stupid - we headed off to their left well in front of them with the intention of walking back towards them slowly and stopping every few yards so that they got used to our movements. If we got a hint they were getting fidgety then we could walk back up the beach a bit away from them until they settled down, thankfully we didn't need to do that. Once as close as we dared we took a few pics
and then moved in a few more yards one step at a time
The black sticky-up things in the sand are the tops of Mason Worms whose silk and shell fragment cases get washed up by the trillion after rough weather. 
The did flush in the end but thanmkfully we weren't the culprit, a young Herring Gull had decoded to join their number but they spooked, perhaps because they'd not long since been out at sea dodging the attentions of several Arctic Skuas and the gull looked similar to those persistent thieves.

We succeeded in getting just one BiF shot off.
Yesterday morning we had an early morning wander round Patch 1 finding a couple of Sparrowhawks with perhaps more in the trees as there was a good bit of flying around going on and a lot of squawking to be heard. Also around the rough field's hedgerows were a Willow Warbler and a nearby Lesser Whitethroat while in the park proper there was a calling Goldcrest and a singing Coal Tit along with several 'tic'ing Robins, sounding very autumnal.
This morning we took Monty to the nature reserve with the hope of some pics for our Year Bird Challenge. At last we had a decent morning with good sunshine and for once this summer no wind!
Straight out of the car and through the gate we got a glimpse of the Blackcap that has been infuriatingly noisy but invisible all summer. Eventually it stopped out in the open long enough to fire of a few pics and once downloaded back at Base Camp a couple of them were even in focus. At long last after walking past this particular bird since early April we've finally got Blackcap (YBC #143) on our tally.
The rest of our walk was fairly quiet apart from an unseen Redshank (MMLNR #74) circling round before sounding like it headed off to the coast south west-wards until we got to the Elderberry bushes by the cabins where there was some activity around the not so many ripe berries. Mostly Blackbirds and Whitethroats but there were a couple of Song Thrushes too. A family of Magpies stopped briefly in the Rowan tree next door to pluck a few berries but maybe there weren't many ripe ones although they all looked the same to us as the soon moved on cackling away as they do.
More Whitethroats were seen on the way to the first hide. probably the most numerous bird of the day. A late Swift flew over with a few Swallows following in its wake a minute or so later. We kept an eye on the reedbed in case the Bittern should decide to take a flight but no such luck. Sneaking up to the viewing screen next to the hide we peered cautiously through the slats hoping the Bittern might be in the reeds fringing the pool - needless to say it wasn't but there was a Reed Warbler that deigned to show itself properly.
By now it was late enough for the charge of the dog brigade to be in full flow and it just became so frustrating as we'd see something in the scrub only for either it or us to be disturbed by a dog wandering unleashed off piste. Monty still wants to meet and greet as he's still only a pup (one year old next weekend) so trying to get him to keep still so we can focus either bins or camera on a no empty bush is hard with the constant passage of other mutts. It's a nightmare and ruins the experience of being at one with nature on a reserve. We saw a snippet of Lesser Whitethroat but were dogged off before we could raise the camera. Luckily there was another back at the Elderberry bush by the cabins - it just wouldn't show its face but another 'at laster', Lesser Whitethroat (TBC #144).
Back at Base Camp after lunch the warm sun brought out a Mint Moth, a species we've not seen here for a couple of years.
Phone pic
Monty's evening walk back to Patch 1 had us hearing the Sparrowhawks squawking again but little else until we spotted a couple of fungi on a long felled tree. No idea what they are but they're nice all the same.
All good stuff on a wildlife filled weekend and we got lots of family duties in too.
Where to next? Pond dipping and bug hunting with family centre group at work tomorrow but will we be too excited and busy to take any pics of their most interesting finds?
In the meantime let us know who's eventually given themselves up in your outback.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Murphy's Law hits hard

The Safari was eager to get out with CR this morning and had most of our gear ready last night butties were in the fridge, the camera's spare battery was charged, all we had to do first thing was make up a flask. And then about an hour before lift off Wifey calls out Monty's eye is bad and he needs the vet asap, who of course don't open until about 09.00 in other words 40 minutes after lift off. So we had to let CR know we'd be on a shortened day and our original plan to visit the big reserve to the north would have to change. 
We got Monty to the vets and were seen quickly. He'd been playing rough with a ball on a string yesterday and taken a serious whack to his eye which had gone orrible over night. Fortunately he's suffered no lasting damage but if he were a boxer he'd have a huge black eye. Once out of the vets we gave him a bit of a run on his favourite field before taking him to Wifey for a day of convalescing in her office. We saw nothing of note on the field.
Once Monty was ensconced we were free for the rest of the day so called CR and we set off to the reserve to the east just down the motorway with thoughts of Hobbys in our head on this supposedly sunniest day of the week by a mile. Unfortunately the weather hadn't read the forecasts and there were some seriously large black clouds around - the camera was still set on ISO Nearly Stupid!
We set off along the river which was birdless, the families of Goosanders having moved on it would seem. The woodland walk was similarly quiet but once we reached the first hide we were told there'd not long been a juvenile Cuckoo showing on the island in front of us - that'd do nicely! Nothing for it but to sit it out and hope it didn't take too long to reappear. 
Best of the rest were several Mallards.
A few Cormorants
And of course being a wetland there's always a Heron
The purple spikes are Purple Loosestrife which was in flower all over the reserve, beautiful. Not so beautiful is the bright green stuff the Heron is standing in - it's the very invasive New Zealand Pygmy Weed, Crassula helmsii, and it's all over the reserve and has smothered the muddy margins of the islands and lakesides several inches deep which has had a very negative effect on the wading birds using the site; very few have bred and passage birds have no mud to feed in. It's almost impossible to eradicate too. Behind the Heron is a small Willow bush and this too has become a little invasive now covering a large proportion of the island (and hiding the Cuckoo) when just a few years ago it was bare ground with only sparse short vegetation - it seriously needs some Wild Goats or Wild Boar or even something bigger to browse it down and grub up the roots if there is to be any chance of waders nesting there next season - otherwise it'll be a Willow forest full of warblers and nesting Herons when the trees become tall enough.
After a good wait and no Cuckoo we moved on to the next hide passing volunteers tearing into another invasive plant, Himalayan Balsam, they've got their work cut out as there's loads of it and some huge patches scattered around the reserve. Best at the hide were a couple of Goldfinches, a churring Whitethroat and a Reed Bunting. With not a lot about we continued to the next pool passing a couple of Peacock butterflies on the way.
The sun that was forecast did its best to make an appearance and when it did it was quite pleasantly warm and that brought out a Kestrel which a mass of chittering Sand Martins alerted to and a more distant Buzzard soared over the woods on the river bluff. In the pool a family of Great Crested Grebes swam around with the large well grown youngsters still making baby noises begging for fish. Brown Hawker and Common Darter dragonflies and a few damselflies took to the wing in the warmth. Maybe the Hobbys would come out too.
Walking back towards the 'Cuckoo hide' we nearly trod on some cuckoo food in the form of a Woolly Bear caterpillar, the irritating hairs being no problem to a hairy caterpillar specialist bird that the Cuckoo is.
Sadly the Cuckoo didn't show up to scoff it but we did try to get some pics of the Sand Martins while we waited for it not to show. From about two dozen shots half of which were birdless - too slow with the shutter finger - only these two poor ones were anything like.
Then C began to feel a bit rough so we had to call it a day and head back up the motorway but not before having a calamity with the car park payment machine which somehow decided to take our cash for the wrong car so we had to pay twice!
Back at Base Camp we had a brew then went to collect Monty to give him another run. We took him back to his favourite field where this time we saw a few butterflies including several Meadow Browns and a few Gatekeepers. Our best sighting wasn't a butterfly but an Ectemnius wasp sat on a hunk of ancient Bog Oak but we couldn't get a pic with our phone.
Once he'd had a good play we drove back down the prom where we saw the giant to mile long  overflow pipe was being installed so we  stopped for a nosey. It was then we got a txt from DB saying a pod of (probably) Bottlenose Dolphins had been seen at lunchtime...dohhhh bl**dy typical - the week after National Whale & Dolphin Watch and on a day off too - you couldn't write it but perhaps Murphy did!!!
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 tomorrow but will those Bottlenose Dolphins turn up again.
In the meantime let us know who's law needs breaking in your outback

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Well that filled our wellies

The Safari had a well attended weekend of National Whale and Dolphin Watches and the Moth and Bat Night at the nature reserve drew a good crowd too. Sadly the weather wasn't good for dolphin spotting with the sea far too rough for observing cetaceans - but you have to try! It was pretty much a birdless desert out there too. Sunday proved to be the best day for birds with a Kestrel going south well out to sea and a little later a Great Skua was seen giving some terns a bit of trouble way out towards the windfarms before giving up on them and heading deep into the bay round the corner and out of sight.
Maybe next year they'll pick a week when the weather is warm sunny and calm!
The moth and bat night we helped out with was disappointing for bats, one flew past quite early on while it was still very light and that tempted us to take the group for a wander up the fields and hedgerows where we've seen loads in the past but we couldn't find any at all - the detectors remained worryingly silent. On the walk back we had two sightings of either one or two Pipistrelles which fortunately everyone in the group managed to see. We kept the detectors on while we turned our attentions to the moths but there were no other sounds to be heard from either of them.
The moths were a little slow starting but after a short while the identifiers were kept busy with a nice selection and fortunately we weren't over-run with a huge number of Large Yellow Underwings. Lesser Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing and Least Yellow Underwing also found the nets..A Gothic was new for us as was a Fen Wainscot. Ruby Tiger, Marbled Beauty and Brown China Mark were pick of the rest with a supporting cast of bright yellow Brimstones, dull brown Common Rustics, Flame Shoulders, Mother of Pearls, pumpkin seed shaped Dingy Footmen and a Common Plume. The Silver Ys attracted to the lamp were much smaller than the one we'd found earlier while pegging out the laundry at Base Camp.
A Yellow Orphion wasp was an exotic looking visitor to the trap.
We were very fortunate to see a Barn Owl fly over the group but they all missed it as they were bent down  concentrating on the moths around the light.
We didn't get a chance to do much wildlife-ing yesterday or today but did manage a Sparrowhawk with a youngster on Patch 1 while out with Monty and a Holly Blue at another site while walking him. Is it just us or are there not so many Holly Blues around this year? The following day we were out on Patch 1 with Monty when the heavens opened and boy did they open it was like the first day of the monsoons. The downpour lasted about ten minutes by which time we'd got under cover of the bigger trees but there was still so much water coming down that it ran off our coat drenched our trousers andd filled up our wellies almost to the brim resulting in a rather squelchy walk back to Base Camp - and Monty? He loved it, ran round like a mad thing and got as wet as a soggy doggy possibly can.
Remember the Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars we didn't weed out last week - sadly we have to tell you they are no more, victims of the tidy-brigade without so much as a by your leave - - and you wonder why there's no butterflies anymore. Fuming we are!!!
Where to next? A welcome day off tomorrow and a trip out planned with CR
In the meantime let us know who's flying over un-noticed in your outback.

Friday, 4 August 2017

St Swithin has a lot to answer for

The Safari has been out and about looking for wildlife but we haven't had many opportunities to take any pics. Mostly we've been participating in this year's National Whale and Dolphin Watch but the weather his been a severe hindrance. Spotting blubber when the waves are crashing in pushed by a strong sou'westerly, not to mention the horrendously heavy rain showers all down to St Swithin and his very wobbly Jet Stream this summer. The week got off to a rocky start when just before our first watch a juvenile Harbour Porpoise had to be rescued off the beach to the south of us. Fortunately we haven't heard anything more of it so it would seem there was a positive outcome. But that's about as close as we've got to seeing cetaceans although a couple of Grey Seals have been spotted on our watches.
The south westerly winds are usually good for seabirds along our coast but it seems they've all got stuck off the far west of Cornwall! All we have to show for our many hours of peering down the scope out to sea is a few Gannets a handful of Manx Shearwaters and small numbers of Sandwich Terns passing by...The biggy must be coming on the next watch - Certainly hope so...and if the 'biggy' is a diminutive Storm Petrel we'll be well happy!
Early morning and ready to go - before the crowds turned up
A Peregrine (P2 #56) gave a good show right over our heads as we were finishing one of the watches.
In other news we've tried to count as many butterflies as possible for the Big Butterfly Count and hope you have too. We haven't seen many mostly due to being in the best places too early in the morning or too late in the evening while out with Monty. During the day we've been sat out our desk or stood on the Prom both butterfly-free zones. The work's garden has been a bit too exposed to the wind so we've only seen a couple of Small Whites there. All a bit annoyingly disappointing. 
However while doing a bit of weeding in the new garden we had to cut the work short when we came across these beauties. Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars enjoying a bit of sunshine on their Nettle leaf.
Back over on Patch 1 excitement has been provided by the first Kestrel (P1 #40) of the drifting over the school field while out with Monty on his pre-breakfast walk and then later that evening a small flock of House Martins (P1 #41) bombing up and down the end of our street, but sadly not coming close enough to get themselves on the Garden list too.
This evening we're helping out at a moth and bat night and lo and behold we found a Silver Y hiding on the washing line, the first macro-moth in the garden this year we've not had the chance to any trapping so far all we've seen a few micros and those have mostly been Light Brown Apple Moths.
Where to next? We'll let you know how we get on with the moths and the last of the National Whale and Dolphin Watches for this year. 
In the meantime let us know who's hiding extremely well in your outback

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Weekend wildlife wander

The Safari has had an enjoyable mooch about across several different sites this weekend. And thankfully the weather has been quiet kind and conducive to wildlife spotting. 
Recently we've been fretting about the loss of the Sneezewort at Monty's favourite walkies site. We were worried that all the tree planting that had been done on the site had shaded it out. Luckily it turns out it's still there and we'd been looking in totally the wrong place, those trees had changed our point of reference. Not only was it still there but there seemed to be more of it than we've seen in the past.
Sneezewort - phone pic
Well that was a relief! It was also a bit of a relief when we were allowed to go out to the nature reserve for a couple of hours with CR and without Monty.
We had three 'B's on our hit list. First was a Blackcap - yes we're still missing this on our Year Bird Challenge. No sight or sound of them on the walk in at all. Our first stop was at the Viewing Platform where we hoped a/the Bittern might be stood out in plain sight - it wasn't but four Herons were. Scanning round the water three Wigeon were a bit of a mid-summer surprise.
At the nest hide Reed Warblers flitted around teasing us as always.  Never giving us a clear view unless they hopped up to the top of the reed stem but when they did that they flitted off the instant the camera was raised towards them.

Still no Blackcaps were seen or heard in the scrub as we walked further down the trail...neither were any Bullfinches although to be fair this would be a corking bird to get a pic of at the reserve. We managed it once - just!  Annoyingly we had a cracking male in our sights once too but it was flushed by a dog on the 'wrong' side of fence a billi-second before we pressed the shutter button - grr grr and double grrr.
CR's sharp eyes picked out a couple of intriguing insects along the track. Some dark shiny black flies revealed bright yellow abdomens with a dark stripe.
Identified later in the day by GB by simply just using Google - now why didn't we do that? Sciara hemerobioides, a Fungus Gnat. Not knowingly recorded in our local area before.
CR also picked out a small micro-moth resting on a Black Knapweed head. This one took a little more persistence to get ID'd...eventually those clever local lepidopterists on Facebook provided an answer - Eucosma sp they weren't able to get it down to species level.
Whilst CR was loking for Common Blue butterflies we spotted a Whitethroat checking out a ripening Blackberry.
I found it - it's mine - now get lost!!!
No butterflies for CR unfortunately, it was a bit overcast and cool to be honest - the forecast was for all day sun.
Back at Base Camp the sun did come out and with Wifey out for the day we were in for the duration looking after Monty so we spent the time in the garden trying to get some pics of the insects that were buzzing around the Oregano plants.
Ersitalis tenax - a fluke the real subject had done a bunk from the flower
Myathropa florea - the 'Batman' hoverfly
Marmalade Hoverfly
Scaeva pyrastri
Great Pied Hoverfly - Volucalla pellucens
Look at those feathery antennae - almost moth-like
This morning we were out earlish with Monty, there was a mist lying over the low ground between us and the high ground of Bowland. Ah Bowland - where in a months time thousands of Red Grouse will be used as target practice and to provide the ridiculously large numbers of surplus Red Grouse the habitat is 'altered' dramatically to suit them and them alone and anything and everything that might prey on them is 'removed' legally or illegally as in the case of the Hen Harrier and other birds of prey. It's time for for things to change in our uplands...please get yourselves along to one of the Hen Harrier Days coming up soon and find out what really happens in our 'lovely' uplands.
Yesterday on Patch 1 we missed a Blackcap by seconds in the gloom under the trees, this morning there was lovely sunshine but no sign of any Blackcaps. Bizarrely there was a Moorhen poking around on the lawn by the pond, they are usually on the smaller but much more densely vegetated top pond.
A wander round the fields with the dog walking crew in the sunshine gave us a glimpse of the male Whitethroat and a soaring male Sparrowhawk and not a lot else.
Later in the morning we set off with Wifey and Monty for a wander in the dunes to the south. Mostly throwing a ball for Monty and supervising his meeting n greeting but we did have the camera with us on the off chance of something interesting. There's always something interesting in the world of wildlife!
Sea Bindweed
Common Centaury
We were hoping for the uncommon Grayling butterfly to put in an appearance. It didn't but yesterday's missing Common Blues were on the wing today.
As were several Gatekeepers.
Butterflies we would expect and we saw a few Burnet moths flying around but perhaps the most unusual find of the trip was this Smoky Wainscot moth - what was that doing out during the day - other than nectaring on Yarrow of course.
And so ended a pretty good wildlife filled weekend.
Where to next? Next weekend is National Whale and Dolphin Watch and we have a full programme of watches lined up for you to join.
In the meantime let us know who's put past their bedtime in your outback.